Inside Hitler's High Command

Geoffrey P. Megargee, Author, Williamson Murray, Foreword by University Press of Kansas $34.95 (328p) ISBN 978-0-7006-1015-0
One of the most persistent myths to come out of WWII is that the Third Reich failed because a militarily incompetent Adolf Hitler and a small circle of yes-men consistently overrode the professional judgment of the German General Staff. If Hitler had left his commanders to their own devices, the story goes, we might all be speaking German today. In this meticulously documented work (the result of a Fulbright grant), Megargee, a research associate at the U.S. Commission on National Security, does much to dispel this longstanding belief. Here we find Hitler cast in the unlikely role of scapegoat for a deeply flawed senior command, whose members staunchly supported the new authoritarian government but who could not even tell the F hrer where Pearl Harbor was located on a map. The command, Megargee writes, hobbled the German military machine through a combination of arrogance and poor planning. One of its worst failings was the inability to evaluate and use vital intelligence information. This came to disastrous result after the ill-fated June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, code-named ""Barbarossa,"" when the German army was dispatched ""into the largest battle in history without anything more than the flimsiest information regarding its enemy."" An immensely illuminating work that casts plenty of blame all around, this will surely provoke much discussion among historians and readers with an interest in the Third Reich. Photos not seen by PW. History Book Club main selection. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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